Photo: New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony smiles as he watches from the bench during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Charlotte Bobcats Friday, Jan. 24, 2014, at Madison Square Garden in New York. Anthony scored 62 points as the Knicks won 125-96. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
CHICAGO -- Of the 30 teams in the NBA, the Chicago Bulls currently rank 29th in scoring, spewing just 92.8 a game from an injury-depleted crew that had used 18 different starting lineups in 44 games.
Obviously, the Bulls need points the way your car needs gas.
Enter Carmelo Anthony, one of the NBA's most prolific scorers, who is averaging 27.1 per this season and torched the Charlotte Bobcats for 62 last Friday at the revered Madison Square Garden in New York.
But despite Melo's effervescence, his beloved Knicks are falling into pieces, toting an 18-27 record for 10th place in a watered down Eastern Conference.
Stuck in a rotting roster full of injured players and bad contracts, Melo, who can opt out of the final year of his contract, told ESPN last October that he will test free agency.
"I want to be a free agent. I think everybody in the NBA dreams to be a free agent at least one time in their career. It's like you have an evaluation period, you know. It's like if I'm in the gym and I have all the coaches, all the owners, all the GM's come into the gym and just evaluate everything I do. So yes, I want that experience," Anthony said.
Two days ago, Yahoo! Sports reported that a source within Melo's camp said that Chicago is a possible landing spot.
Naturally, Bulls fan relished the idea of a Derrick Rose-Carmelo Anthony combo, one that would be mighty expensive but could deliver a championship if Rose's injured knees hold up.
Photo: New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony, center, fights with Brooklyn Nets' Kevin Garnett, left, and Paul Pierce for a rebound during the first half of the NBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
NBA analyst Charles Barkley brought more balloons to the party by going on Chicago sports talk radio and declaring that "the Bulls are going to be relevant the next few years" and that Melo "might be a good pickup."
I've never been a Melo fan. For his size, 6-foot-8 and 235 pounds, I think he is a weak rebounder. He enjoys playing defense the way Dracula likes the sunlight. And he is an extremely reluctant passer, an old-fashioned ball hog who shoots until his arms fall off.
But scoring is the best NBA deodorant. If you put points on the board like Melo has --- 18,985 in 10 years ---your shortcomings can be conveniently overlooked. That's exactly why teams covet Anthony.
Despite all the tease and dream scenarios though, the signs point to Melo staying put in the Big Apple.
His wife, LaLa Anthony, a former MTV VJ and actress who appeared with comedian Kevin Hart in the 2012 movie Think Like a Man, recently told CBS New York that her husband will "definitely" stay in New York.
Like a dutiful husband, who listens to a higher power, Melo came to his wife's side and said "I don't think she said anything wrong. It's a good thing for her to say that."
In the end, however, it's the price tag that will keep the 6-time All-Star branded in New York.
According to ESPN's salary cap expert Larry Coon, Anthony can re-sign with the Knicks for a five-year deal worth $129,135,806. If he leaves, he will get no more than four years and $95,897,372 elsewhere.
At age 29, this could possibly be Melo's last fat payday. Sure, winning a ring would be nice, but $33 million and change is a lot of dough to let go.